After surviving a terrifying avalanche, climber Ed Viesturs is the first American to summit all 14 of the world's highest mountains without supplemental oxygen."
Washington resident Ed Viesturs is widely regarded as this countryâ€™s
foremost high-altitude mountaineer. He is familiar to many from the 1996
IMAX Everest Expedition documentary and in 2002, he was awarded the
historic Lowell Thomas Award by the Explorerâ€™s Club for outstanding
achievement in the field of mountaineering. In winning the award, he
joined an elite group of climbers including Sir Edmund Hillary. In 1992
he was awarded the American Alpine Club Sowles Awards for his
participation in two rescues on K-2.
Viesturs is a professional mountaineer and works as a design
consultant for several prominent outdoor equipment manufacturers such as
Eddie Bauer/First Ascent and Grandoe Gloves. He also represents
companies such as Rolex and the Seattle Seahawks. He does corporate
motivational speeches as well, touching on subjects such as Risk
Management, Leadership, Team Work, Overcoming Major Obstacles, and
Decision Making Under Pressure.
Ed serves as a member of the Board of Directors for Big City
Mountaineers (BCM), an organization that instills critical life skills
in under-resourced youth through wilderness mentoring experiences that
help keep kids in school, reduce violence and drug use. He is
spokesperson for their Summit For Someone benefit climb series which
placing individuals on iconic peaks raising support for BCM youth and
Viesturs has successfully reached the summits of all of the worldâ€™s
fourteen 8000-meter peaks without supplemental oxygen, an 18 year
project he christened Endeavor 8000. His goal was completed on May 12,
2005 with his ascent of Annapurna one of the worldâ€™s most treacherous
peaks. He is one of only a handful of climbers in history (and the only
American) to accomplish this. That year Viesturs was awarded National
Geographicâ€™s Adventurer of the Year.
During the 18 year span to climb the worldâ€™s highest peaks he went on
29 Himalayan expeditions and reached the summit on 20 of these
occasions and stood on the top of Everest seven times. He climbs without
benefit of an oxygen tank, which he feels can be burdensome and
potentially troublesome. Only a superior conditioned athlete can scale
heights above 25,000 feet without artificial oxygen â€“ a fact Viesturs
has turned into an important metaphor for his audiences (i.e., that the
key to the journey is in the time and energy invested in the
Viesturs motto has always been that climbing has to be a round trip.
All of his planning and focus during his climbs maintains this ethic and
he is not shy about turning back from a climb if conditions are too
severe. In spite of his conservative attitude Viesturs has been one of
the most successful Himalayan climbers in American history. His story is
about risk management as well as being patient enough for conditions to
allow an ascent. Ultimately, in his words, â€œThe mountain decides
whether you climb or not. The art of mountaineering is knowing when to
go, when to stay, and when to retreat.â€
At the start of their 2005 season the Seattle Seahawks football team
brought in Viesturs to speak to them about teamwork. The team and
coaches incorporated some of his messages and ideas into their practices
and games and went on to play in the Super Bowl that season. According
to Viesturs, regardless of the industry, teamwork is the same: â€œIt is an
implicit trust in, and recognition that the person next to you is No.
1,â€ he explains. â€œIf weâ€™re climbing a mountain together and you slip and
fall, Iâ€™m there to save your lifeâ€ â€“ which is the ultimate definition
of teamwork. Another lesson Viesturs espouses is the importance of
perseverance, or going step by step and not getting discouraged when
working toward your goal. Viesturs recalls once being just 300 feet away
from the top of Mount Everest when he had to turn back.
In October 2005 Viesturs best selling autobiography â€œNo Shortcuts To
The Topâ€ was published and released by Broadway Books. The book covers
in detail Ed Viestursâ€™ career as a mountaineer, how he prepared for his
expeditions and his philosophy about how he managed the inherent risks.
In 2008 Viesturs published his second book-â€œK-2, LIFE AND DEATH ON
THE WORLDâ€S MOST DANGEROUS MOUNTAINSâ€, as by Broadway Books. This book
chronicles 6 historic expeditions on the worldâ€™s second highest peak,
and discusses the risks of success and the costs thereof. Risk
management is a key theme throughout.
Viesturs third book- The Will to Climb: Obsession and Commitment and
the Quest to Climb Annapurna--the World's Deadliest Peakwas released on
October 4, 2011.
Viesturs was born in 1959 and now lives on Bainbridge Island,
Washington with his wife of 15 years, Paula, and their four children. He
continues to go on adventures. On May 19th 2009 he made his 7th ascent
of Everest. In January of 2011 he lead a climb of Vinson Massiff, the
highest peak in Antarctica, at â€˜16,066. Most recently in August, 2011
made his 208th ascent of 14,410â€™ Mt. Rainier.